Unending violence and repression
October 2023 will go as one of the bloodiest periods in recent history, in the long struggle of the Palestinian people to end Israeli occupation and to achieve an independent state.
The current bloody onslaught against the Palestinian people, while sparked by the attacks of the Palestinian Resistance of 7 October, cannot be removed from the general violence and long-standing occupation inflected upon the Palestinian people by the Israeli settler-colonial armed forces.
The Palestinian people have experienced occupation and unrelenting violence and repression without let-up since 1948. Generation after generation has experienced nothing but occupation and violence, which in turn have led to resistance by the Palestinian people, which has taken many forms.
The Oslo Accords (1993), signed in Washington by the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Yasser Arafat, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and the Oslo II Accord (1997), signed in Taba, Egypt, were supposed to set out the framework and pathway to the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza; in return, the PLO would recognise the state of Israel and abandon all armed resistance. Israel, for its part, would withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, stop the expansion of settlements, and accept the establishment of a Palestinian state.
This never happened. The Palestinian Authority that was established following the signing of the Oslo Accords has shown itself over the decades to be completely corrupt and incapable of advancing the rights of the Palestinians. In the last elections, held in 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) won the majority of votes in Gaza and a substantial vote on the West Bank, which resulted in the Palestinian Authority, under pressure from the United States and Israel, declaring the election null and void on the West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority is despised by the Palestinian people, and it is known that if elections were held today it would have little support beyond its network of largesse bureaucracy, subsidised organisations, and police force—a police force used more to oppress Palestinian opposition and resistance than to protect Palestinians from the violence and occupation inflicted by the Zionist settler-colonial army as well as the thousands of armed settlers.
The Israeli settlements continue to expand into the West Bank, and every year more and more Palestinian land is confiscated by settlers. Israel controls most if not all water resources; of those they don’t control they have poured concrete down wells, thereby preventing Palestinians using them. Thousands of children have been murdered simply for throwing stones at the Israeli army, others for simply doing nothing. Farmers have been murdered in the fields trying to protect their orange trees and olive groves.
The imperialist countries and blocs, such as the United States and the European Union, have actively and unconditionally supported the Israeli actions. Israel is the recipient of $14.3 billion every year from the United States. From 1946 to 2022 the United States has given hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral assistance to Israel—a state with a present-day population of 9.3 million people, more than half of whom are Palestinians, who suffer widespread discrimination, apartheid laws, restrictions, and violence.
Imperialism recognises the importance of the state of Israel for its strategic interests in the region, a region rich in natural resources, including oil and gas. Most of the other states in the region are the product of British and French colonial expansion after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire.
The violence and armed attacks by the Palestinian Resistance forces on 7 October did not happen in a vacuum, despite the attempts by the Israeli military press, whose briefings are dutifully repeated by RTE and the Irish Times, etc., claiming that what is now happening in Gaza is the Palestinians’ own fault. In fact they are the result of the deliberate policies of both the Israeli government and its imperialist backers—the United States and the European Union—over many decades.
The current savage and brutal assault on the people of Gaza goes against all international laws—laws that are used by imperialism itself to justify a number of bloody wars that it has engaged in. But the United States is beginning to realise that the global balance of forces is shifting away from it. The latest barbaric assault on the Palestinian people could well prove fatal to its influence and strategic interests in the region.
Unless it can reel in Israel it will lose huge influence in the Middle East and beyond. So we had Biden and other leaders of imperialism tripping over themselves to show solidarity with Israel but at the same time to be seen to be doing something to rein in the Zionist regime. Blinken could not rein in the Zionists, so Biden flew in try to seal a deal, which resulted in a few truckloads of supplies being allowed into Gaza.
This failing strategy in the Middle East is compounded by the near-collapse of the counter-offensive in Ukraine and the almost certain defeat of imperialist NATO’s proxy war—further indications of the growing weakness of imperialism, politically and economically. If its proxy forces are not able to deliver, then what next?
Another feature that has become clearer with the current attacks on the Palestinian people is the use of the term “international community,” as though the imperialist countries and blocs are the voice of the international community and speak on their behalf. What they mean by “international community” is the United States and Canada, EU member-states, Japan, and Australia. It does not include the majority of the world’s nations and peoples. The opinions of the people of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East or Asia do nor count—a deeply racist world view.
A view reflective of the big monopolies is that of Wix, which employs five hundred people in Ireland. At the end of October it sacked one Irish worker for expressing opposition to what is happening in Gaza and for describing Israel as a “terrorist state.” The company wanted instead to “encourage” it staff to set up social media accounts to support the Zionist aggression and the “Israeli narrative” of events unfolding in Gaza.
A message circulated to all staff by a manager following the Resistance attack on 7 October encouraged the workers to “show Westernity” in social media, as, “unlike Gazans, we look and live like Europeans or Americans,” showing imperialism’s deeply racist world view.
But the balance of forces is tipping against them; and the role of China will become critical. The Chinese peace strategy in the Middle East, for creating a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, is causing problems for the United States and Zionism, while the Palestinian resistance has really rattled the Zionists and shattered many of their illusions, the biggest one the invincibility of the Israeli “Defence Forces.”
The Irish state has been forced to take the positions it has because of pressure from the streets, from the cities and towns around the country. It cannot escape the historical memories held by the Irish people of their resistance and their understanding of what it is like and what is experienced by a colonised and occupied country and people. That is why we need to continue to fight for neutrality to be enshrined in the Constitution of Ireland and to demand the enactment of the Occupied Territories Bill and other legislation to outlaw the importing of goods from occupied territories, that the Irish state recognise a Palestinian state.
It is too early to see what will come out of this current struggle between the Palestinian people and their occupiers. The attacks on 7 October may well have been a turning-point. The Palestinians have fulfilled their commitments under the Oslo Accords, which the Israeli and Western powers have not. They have tried diplomacy and subservience, and it has delivered little.
From our own history, we know that an oppressed people can only take so much repression before a breaking-point is reached and resistance is taken up with renewed vigour, with unsure and unforeseen consequences for the oppressor and its imperial backers.
Victory is certain. Long live the heroic Palestinian people and their historic resistance against occupation and oppression!